The Scarecrow

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Another excellent Michael Connelly crime novel. Connelly's usual protagonist, Harry Bosch, is absent, but gets indirectly mentioned here and there.

The primary hero is from a previous Connelly book, The Poet: reporter Jack McEvoy. Jack is working the crime beat for the LA Times as the book opens, but he's targeted in the latest flurry of downsizing. Does that mean a short book? No.

Jack decides to do One Last Big Story, triggered by a hectoring phone call from the grandmother of Alonzo, a teenage ghetto gangster currently in jail for a grisly murder. Initially, Jack's intention is to write about how a dysfunctional society and family structure turned a kid into a killer. But he notices something disturbing: the crime bears a beyond-coincidental similarity to a previous murder that Alonzo could not have perpetrated. Jack realizes that he's uncovered a serial killer who's also an expert in framing someone else for the deeds.

Jack turns to FBI profiling expert Rachel Walling for assistance, and they become a crack investigatory team, mostly flouting the rules and guidelines of their respective superiors.

Jack's tale is interspersed with chapters from the point of view of the murderer, Carver. (This is not a spoiler, it's revealed very early in the book.) He turns out to be a gifted hacker, working as a chief security officer for an Internet colocation firm. (He has a unique way of dealing with attempted breaches: planting child pornography on the attacker's machine.) He is as dangerously crafty as he is homicidally insane.

Connelly's dialogue is occasionally stilted, but who cares? He remains an expert at dragging this reader into the yarn.

Last Modified 2024-01-27 5:39 AM EDT